INTERVIEW BY ME, FROM LOCAL PHOTO-JOURNALIST Christine T. Nguyen
1) Where were you born?
I was born in Bluefield, WV and moved to Charlotte, NC when I was in fourth grade.
2) Did you always know what you wanted to do in life?
Like most kids, I waffled about what I wanted to be when I grew up. At different points in my childhood I wanted to be a teacher, astronaut, author or marine biologist. I joined the middle school paper in seventh grade and that's when I realized that I wanted to be a journalist.
3) What was your first experience in the field? Was it paid or unpaid?
In high school I interned at The Charlotte Observer and wrote for their teen page during the summer. It was an unpaid internship. Honestly I didn't enjoy the experience very much. I spent most of the time in the office doing interviews over the phone for the teen page stories and re-writing press releases for the Travel section. However the experience taught me that while I'm not a great writer, I still really enjoyed the idea of working for a newspaper. At that point I decided to explore other areas of journalism and discovered my love of photography.
4) What obstacles did you face when attempting to find a job immediately after graduating from college?
During college I didn't apply for photojournalism internships. However, without relevant experience I knew that I wouldn't be able to find a job at a newspaper right after graduation. So instead of looking for a jobs, I pursued internships to strengthen my portfolio. Photojournalism is a very competitive field. I applied to (and was rejected by) 20 newspapers before I was selected to intern at The Fayetteville Observer.
5) Did your family always support your dreams and aspirations?
My parents had mixed reactions to my dream of being a photojournalist. Even though they were helpful my parents weren't convinced that I would be able to find a job as a photojournalist. They often tried to convince me to change my major from journalism to something more practical, like business. It wasn't until I photographed the ACC tournament my second year with The Herald-Sun that my dad stopped trying to convince me to change careers.
6) Do you overall enjoy what you do and your current job?
I love that my job allows me to explore and get to know this community in a way that I don't think I would if I just lived here. In the same day I have met a farmer, a recovering drug addict and then headed to Duke to shoot a basketball game. Every day is different.
7) What types of things do you feel set you apart from other journalists and photographers?
I love meeting people and hearing about their lives. I think that curiosity and open-ness makes people feel comfortable with me when I'm photographing them and often allows me to take intimate and heart-felt photos.
8) Do you have any regrets of the choices you made along your journey to where you are now ?
I often regretted not interning during school. At the time I didn't think that my photos and portfolio were good enough to land an internship so I didn't try. I also regret not taking more chances, like accepting a job overseas that was a little less stable. If I had, I could have opened myself up to different opportunities. Then again, I love Durham and don't regret that I ended up here.
This was a very insightful interview that will help me now and in my future endeavors on my journey to being a journalist.
Christine T. Nguyen